Scali: Israel Has Right to Exist; Need to Weave Palestinian Interests into the Negotiating Process

John Scali, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, told the General Assembly today that “weaving the Palestinian interests into the give and take of the negotiating process” was the way to move toward a situation “more responsive” to those interests At the same time, he affirmed, “it must be understood by all that Israel has the right to exist as a sovereign independent state within secure and recognized boundaries.”

Scali made the two points in the first statement by the United States in the current Assembly debate on the Palestine question since it began last week with a speech by Yasir Arafat, head of the Palestine Liberation Organization. Scali said Palestinian interests would not be advanced “through new resolutions or dramatic parliamentary maneuvers.”

The Assembly is expected to vote late tomorrow on two resolutions, one demanding national independence and sovereignty for the Palestinian people and their right to return to their homes and property, and another giving the PLO permanent observer status.

Delegates from the nine European Common Market countries, as well as Canada, have expressed concern in speeches to the Assembly and in private consultations that the draft resolutions omit any reference to the future status of Israel or to Security Council Resolution 242, which since 1967, has been considered to be the basis of any future Middle East settlement.

Scali also said that the United States hoped that all member nations would reaffirm their support for Resolutions 242 and 338, which call for a negotiated Mideast settlement. He said “We believe they remain the best hope for continued progress.” He stressed that if any of the parties to the conflict rejected the right to exist of any other parties to the negotiations, then “our best hopes for negotiations and for peace are lost.”

TERRORISM IS NOT NATIONAL LIBERATION

Without mentioning Arafat by name. Scali denounced attempts to equate terror with revolution and Arafat’s professing to see no difference “between the slaughter of innocent people and a struggle for national liberation.” He added that “there are those who wish to compare the American revolution and the many other wars of liberation of the past 200 years, with brutal and indiscriminate terrorism.” Arafat had made this equation during his speech last week at the Assembly. The American freedom fighters, Scali said, never succumbed to the easy excuse that “the end justifies the means.”

Emphasizing that the primary objective of the U.S. has been to maintain the momentum of the negotiating process, Scali said only “a just and lasting solution of the Middle East conflict can stop the killing and suffering” and that the goal of the UN is to seek ways to promote movement to that end. More violence cannot bring peace, he said, adding that this only intensified the hatred and human misery in the area. He said “a fifth war” in the Mideast “would threaten the security of every country and produce no permanent gains for any.”

SIGNIFICANT OMISSION CITED

Regarding the Geneva peace conference, Scali noted that when the parties agreed to attend it they also agreed that the role of other participants would be discussed at the conference. That statement, according to some observers here, hinted at the possibility of Palestinian participation in the Geneva parley.

Observers felt also that Scali made a significant omission when he failed to mention the PLO by name in his speech and that he failed to support Israel’s determination not to recognize or negotiate with the PLO. Nevertheless, Scali’s speech was seen as indicative of a negative U.S. vote on the Palestine resolution tomorrow.

In a speech to the General Assembly last night, the Canadian Foreign Minister, Allan J. MacEachen strongly upheld Israel’s right to exist as a sovereign nation and vigorously condemned terrorism. “We remain opposed to any attempt to challenge the right of Israel or the right of any other state in the region to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threat and acts of force,” the Canadian diplomat said. He also declared that his country “condemns vigorously terrorism in whatever form and from whatever quarter it may occur.” He reiterated that “meaningful dialogue depends on recognition of the existence of Israel and its right of survival.”

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